Tag Archives: Breakfast

Pharmacy 2 with Ronnie O’Sullivan

We weren’t overly excited when we heard the restaurant at Newport Street Gallery was going to be Pharmacy 2. Damien Hirst is an artist whose reputation is built on great ideas, so why recycle one from the nineties? (The original Pharmacy opened in Notting Hill in 1998, closing in 2003.)

Medicine cabinets at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

Then we heard the food would be by Mark Hix, longstanding friend of the (not young anymore) Young British Artists. We are fans of Mark’s cooking but it tends to be rather meaty, and the two times we went to Hixter Bankside it was almost as quiet as Gordon Ramsey’s place round the corner on Great Suffolk Street.

The bar at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

Also, our solicitation came to naught – we did not receive an invite to Pharmacy 2’s opening. But to make it up to us, they arranged for the most talented and compelling sportsman of his generation, Ronnie O’Sullivan, to be dining there with Damien Hirst during our first visit (Ronnie had the steak).

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Damien Hirst at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

From the moment we entered and saw Ronnie, we had a great time. The decor may not be a new idea, but it’s fun to look at, and at least it’s not a Polpo rip-off. There are no other restaurants remotely like this in the area, and it seems to be doing well, being close to capacity for both our visits.

As for the food, most of it was great. Struggling to find a vegetarian main course, one of us had two starters instead, although we’ve since seen there is a vegetarian menu on their website (perhaps you have to ask for it). Anyway, these shaved winter squash with trevisano and Graceburn cheese cost £7.50 and went down very well:

Shaved winter squash with trevisano and Graceburn cheese at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

As did these heritage beets with walnuts and chickweed, also £7.50:

heritage beets with walnuts and chickweed at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

Your other correspondent went for a flawless brunch option of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for £9.95 (they serve brunch from 10am to 6pm every day except Monday when they’re closed):

Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

On our second visit we had some tasty waffles with Yorkshire rhubarb for £7.95, but the brunch portion sizes are not large – more of a mid morning snack than a full meal.

The desserts are also small but cost just £4 so no complaints there. This pineapple upside-down cake was deliciously moist and nostalgic. So nostalgic that we went right back to the days when you just started eating instead of taking a photo first:

Pineapple upside down cake at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

The only disappointment was a side of creamed spinach, which tasted like a pie filling without the pie, and was far too salty.

Nonetheless we can wholeheartedly recommend Pharmacy 2 for brunch, lunch, dinner or drinks. It’s great fun.

They’re open Tuesday–Saturday 10am–midnight, and Sundays 10am-6pm.

Address: Newport Street, London SE11 6AJ.

brunch at Counter Brasserie

The Kennington brunch revolution continues as new arrival Counter offer all-day brunch until 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

We made it along recently and were impressed by the quality of the food despite a few teething troubles.

This is banana stuffed French toast, crispy bacon, and maple syrup. Our waiter told us it couldn’t be served without bacon, although he later conceded it could. Plus the bacon wasn’t really crispy after all. But the French toast was great and definitely New York-style in the sense that it was more of a loaf than a slice:

Banana stuffed French toast, crispy bacon, maple syrup - Counter Brasserie - kenningtonrunoff.com

This is buttermilk pancakes, blueberries, creme fraiche and vanilla syrup. Yes we got a bit over-excited and started eating before taking the photos:

Buttermilk pancakes, blueberries, creme fraiche, vanilla syrup - Counter Brasserie - kenningtonrunoff.com

This is habanero scramble, brioche, pumpkin seeds, spring onions and chilli ketchup. Tasty:

Habanero scramble, brioche, pumpkin seeds, spring onions, chilli ketchup - Counter Brasserie - kenningtonrunoff.com

Another small gripe: they claim to serve fresh mint tea but actually serve peppermint teabags which is very different. Message to Counter: fresh mint tea is just fresh mint and hot water – you can do it.

But we’ll forgive them because the food is so tasty and there was live jazz on a Sunday:

live jazz, Counter Brasserie - kenningtonrunoff.com

For more info on Counter see our original piece here.

They serve some of the brunch dishes for breakfast on weekdays. Menus here.

exterior of Counter Brasserie at night - kenningtonrunoff.com

Counter Brasserie

Counter is the biggest, most exciting restaurant opening in the Kennington area since Brunswick House. The founder Philip Reicherstorfer, a local resident, has been working on this for three years and was initially looking at the site now occupied by Nando’s, before deciding that a different set of railway arches would be better suited. The entrance to the Counter brasserie is on South Lambeth Place, next to the Sainsbury’s Local that is next to Vauxhall station, in what briefly claimed to be VX1 Gallery (we never found it open).

Counter location - kenningtonrunoff.com

Right now the brasserie is open for soft launch with half price food (you may need to book online to take advantage of this offer, which will last until Tuesday). Their advertising says “Fully open from February 14th” but we went on Friday and it was seamless, with excellent, friendly service and delicious food.

Counter Brasserie and Bar - kenningtonrunoff.com

They describe the food as “New York-style French” but it’s more diverse than that – we had a starter of chili blanco, warm tortillas, and avocado salsa (normally £6.50, currently £3.25) – very tasty.

The main course of sole with brown butter, capers, confit potato and spinach (normally £17, currently £8.50) was one of the most flavoursome, succulent fish dishes we’ve ever had – even better than The Lobster Pot’s skate wing equivalent. Thank-you, head chef Dan Blucert, formerly of The Big Easy in Covent Garden.

Butternut squash hotpot, tomato and ancho chili (normally £14, currently £7) was also full of flavour, although the cornbread dumplings were rather dry.

Counter butternut squash hotpot, tomato, ancho chili, cornbread dumplings - kenningtonrunoff.com

We had a decent desert of New York cheesecake with blueberry compote, and they do their own dark and sophisticated Counter lager, brewed in the Netherlands, plus a wine list that is exclusively American and French, and plenty of cocktails and mocktails.

The clientele was nicely mixed, from Friday night revellers to middle aged gay couples to a family with a toddler. The restaurant is big (175 capacity) but was already looking pleasantly full. Ask to be seated in a booth for extra privacy and comfort. The decor is “Deco meets Disco” and will not be for everyone, but if it’s not for you then Brunswick House and Bonnington Cafe offer polar opposites just yards away.

Counter bar - kenningtonrunoff.com

For the rest of us, Kennington finally has a quality restaurant that’s open just about any time you’d want to go – Monday to Thursday 7am to midnight, Friday 7am to 1am, Saturday 8am to 1am, and Sunday 8am to midnight. They do all day brunch on Saturdays and Sundays till 5pm – more on that soon. Counter already looks like being a great success and will contribute a lot to the revitalisation of West Kennington.

Also, Counter’s premises will soon stretch a mammoth 60 metres back, all the way to the other side of the arches near Dirty Burger on South Lambeth Road – BackCOUNTER will open on February 12th and will be open Thursdays to Sundays at least, plus private hire. It seems aimed at a gay pre-clubbing crowd but it’s still a building site at present.

Here’s an architect’s sketch of the whole premises:

Counter whole thing

The best breakfast in Kennington?

As regular readers of this blog will be well aware, Kennington has establishments that cater for most needs, but its one relative weak spot has been places to have breakfast or brunch.

Vergies is the nicest of a number of local cafes that offer fry ups in the greasy spoon mould (although it’s anything but greasy in there).

Toulouse Lautrec serve freshly baked French pastries, freshly squeezed orange juice, freshly pressed orange juice and the creamiest of scrambled eggs on weekends and Bank Holidays, but the service can be a little frustrating (some of the staff have limited English and speaking French to them doesn’t seem to work either).

Brunswick House do a good but short brunch menu.

Tea House Theatre’s breakfast is reviewed here.

Sally White do some breakfast options but add star anise to their granola – why why why?

So it’s with some excitement that we annouce that we now have a new candidate for the title of best breakfast in Kennington – The Tommyfield, who serve breakfast between 8.30am and 11.30am on weekends.

One of us had a homemade granola served with Greek yoghurt and a summer berry pot:

Homemade granola, Greek yoghurt, summer berry pot at the Tommfield - Kenningtonrunoff.com

And the other had a serving of buttermilk pancakes which came with blueberry compote and mascarpone cream:

Buttermilk pancake, blueberry compote, mascarpone cream at the Tommyfield - kenningtonrunoff.om

Both were excellent, but the lingering smell of drains which has percolated through the Tommyfield for a while now was more bothersome at breakfast time despite a sash window wide open next to the table.

Even if you’re not staying overnight at the Tommyfield Hotel, you can still enjoy their fragrant breakfast of a weekend, menu here.